Lake Buena Vista, FL – As we enter the final week of Spring Training, the battle for the final spots on the Braves 25 man roster is heating up. When camp opened in the middle of February, manager Fredi Gonzalezsaid the plan was for Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson to battle it out for the job at third base. Both Johnson and Francisco have been red hot at the plate, hitting a combined .368 (42-for-114) with 8 home runs, 23 RBI and 21 runs scored as of Saturday morning. If Opening Day was tomorrow, Fredi seems inclined to go with a platoon at third base, rather than having one win the job outright. Jordan Schafer, Tyler Pastornicky and Evan Gattis have all been red hot this Spring as well. However, with the Braves not having many openings on their roster, it appears as though only two out of those three will make the roster. Fredi Gonzalez has hinted that the longterm plan for Pastornicky is to become a super utility guy, capable of covering short, second, and some outfield as well. The only way for a young player like Tyler to get those reps however, seems to be at the Triple-A level.
The other big question mark heading into camp was the status of the fifth spot in the rotation. Julio Teheran, who goes today against the Astros has been outstanding this Spring. In his first five starts, he’s allowed just three earned runs on seven hits in 20 innings pitched. His strikeouts to walk ratio has been impressive as well, as he’s stuck out 25 while walking just six. Teheran credits his success to his two seam fastball, a pitch he worked hard on during Winter ball.
Braves Bits: Brian McCann has been taking batting practice and throwing regularly and hopes to get into games (either in Gwinnett or Atlanta) on April 16…Jonny Venters hasn’t pitched since last Wednesday but will throw in a Minor League game this afternoon…Evan Gattis clubbed two home runs Friday at Clearwater, upping his average to .391 with four home runs and 13 RBI in 20 games this Spring…Legendary skipper Bobby Cox will manage the Future Stars next Saturday afternoon in Gwinnett.
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